When Agents Betray Principal’s Trust
Powers Of Attorney Impact Financial And Personal Matters
What To Do When Power Abused
In California and elsewhere, Powers of Attorney (POAs) can cover financial matters and also health and personal care matters and medical needs. The California Probate Code provides standard forms for POAs. See Cal. Prob. Code §§ 4401 (financial POA) and 4600 et seq. (health care decisions). But POAs are much, much more than just fill-in-the-blank forms. POAs grant the agent acting under them broad powers over virtually all of a principal’s affairs. The potential for abuse of that broad power is always present so whenever you grant an individual a POA make sure it is a person you trust. Never, ever, grant a Power of Attorney to a caregiver; our elder abuse litigators have seen too many cases where caregivers abuse any POA to benefit themselves to an older person’s real harm. If an agent has misused a POA to your or an older loved one’s detriment, call our litigators at (415)441-8669.
How Powers Of Attorney Are Misused
Misuse of Powers of Attorney can be grouped into four general categories:
- Financial abuse includes embezzlement of the principal’s bank deposit, pension and social security, and use of a power of attorney to make investments, purchases and financial transactions for the agent’s benefit. Financial abuse makes the bulk of the fraud related to power of attorney.
- Medical abuse of an Advanced Health Care Directive and Medical POA includes intentionally making inappropriate and harmful medical decisions such as expensive and unnecessary medical purchases, neglecting to provide adequate medical care to the principal, failing to place an elderly principal to the proper medical facility, and committing an elderly principal to a nursing facility.
- Breach of fiduciary duty occurs when the agent fails to keep the principal informed about the changes in his/her financial state, medical affairs, etc., failing to obtain the principal’s consent before making a profit from his finances or accounts, and failing to act accordingly to the principal’s interests.
- Frauds, forgery and identify theft includes using the power of attorney status to open bank accounts without the principal’s knowledge, purchase insurance policies and annuities, make purchases using the principal’s credit cards, commit tax frauds, and be involved in unlawful and fraudulent activities in the principal’s guise.
What To Do If A POA Is Misused
The litigators at Evans Law Firm can help injured seniors whenever a POA has been misused. POA misuse is a prevalent form of financial elder abuse. For example, California law prohibits an agent from designating beneficiaries or creating future (or survivorship) interests in the principal’s property unless specifically authorized to do so in a POA. Cal. Prob. Code § 4264. The agent is strictly prohibited from making or revoking the principal’s Will. Cal. Prob. Code § 4265. Our elder abuse litigators know how to investigate and prosecute civil cases against all persons responsible for the abuse or misuse of a POA.. Misuse of a POA to commit any such wrongful or unauthorized acts renders the transactions void and also makes the offending agent liable for attorneys’ fees when the principal sues for the abuse. Cal. Prob. Code § 4231.5(c).
Ingrid M. Evans and the other California elder abuse attorneys at the Evans Law Firm can represent you if an agent has misused a Power of Attorney granted by you or an older loved one. If you need help, call us today at 415-441-8669 or or by email at <a href=”mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org</a>. Ingrid and the other elder abuse litigators at our firm will pursue all remedies available against the agent, including attorneys’ fees and expenses for the older person required to bring an action based on the agent’s wrongful conduct.